By ERIN KIM
“Your life is quiet, it’s a quiet world. There’s no sound, no voice, no chattering…It’s really quiet, like birds,” said DHH student Andrea Martinez (So.) about growing up deaf.
But not for long. A cochlear implant finally shattered her world of silence when Martinez was six years old, allowing her to hear for the first time. “I remember the first time I put it on, I immediately started crying, because I didn’t like to hear. It was scary that first time,” Martinez recalled. After keeping her implant off for two years, Martinez agreed to wear it consistently upon her family and doctors’ requests. Martinez is still not completely comfortable living in constant noise, but wears her implant more often to adjust to the hearing world.
As the only deaf person in her family, communicating with her family has always been Martinez’s greatest struggle. “It’s really tough to become used to it [communicating with family]. For example, when I go eat dinner with my family, my parents are talking without me and I’m just watching. And I thank them for the food… but that’s it. And then I go and sit down. While other hearing people are chatting, I can’t talk to my parents and tell them about school stuff or problems because of the communication barrier. I can’t get advice from my parents.” While Martinez’s mother and sister know how to sign, her father uses gestures to communicate with her.
While she strives to improve her communication skills with hearing people, Martinez makes sure to set aside time for her personal hobbies. She is most passionate about reading and photography and enjoys watching Korean dramas in her free time. She explained: “I like Korean dramas like Noble, My Love because they always teach me a lesson.”
Always being open to new lessons and experiences has allowed Martinez to be a role model for other deaf students. She is an Advertisement Officer for Junior National Association of the Deaf (Jr. NAD), one of the most prominent clubs in the DHH community at UHS. As an Advertisement Officer, she shares ideas and helps plan various events for Jr. NAD members. Though a strong leader herself, she looks up to Jovaneh Guiterrez (Sr.), an ASB DHH representative, for his public speaking skills and passion for leadership.
One vision Martinez has for UHS is the unification of the DHH and hearing communities. “I really want all the hearing kids to know how to sign, so we [DHH students] can ask them [hearing students] anything,” stated Martinez. “Also I wish the classes could be half deaf and half hearing so we can learn to communicate with each other.”
With high school passing by quickly yet having many goals left to accomplish, Martinez wishes to have the power to stop time. She reasoned,“I won’t have to worry about my future, or what I’m going to do next, or what I’m going to do for work.” However, she is certain about one aspect of her future: “I want to be a nurse. I’ve had experience being in the hospital and trying to communicate with the nurses. I had to write down what my symptoms are [because they could not sign], and so I want to be a deaf nurse so that deaf patients can be comfortable with me.”